The Abbey: Ireland’s national theatre. Photograph: Ros Kavanagh

If the national theatre is not world class or keen on Ireland’s dramatic canon, what is it for?

Conservative leadership hopeful Michael Gove leaving BBC Broadcasting House in London after appearing on Sunday’s  Andrew Marr show.  Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The coked-up rant in Michael Gove’s Belfast Agreement pamphlet makes more sense now

If Trump were to get his way and the EU were to fall apart, we would have to grovel before him in a way that would make the pimping out of the British royals look dignified. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty

Diplomatic niceties should not blind us to the US president’s aggressive designs

Morrissey has given support to Brexit, and the far-right party For Britain

Morrissey was once an Anglo-Irish critic of Britishness, but he is now a far-right icon

Maria Bailey. Listening to the Fine Gael TD being interviewed by Seán O’Rourke was like watching a clutch of ducklings waddle into the blades of a combine harvester. Photograph: Barbara Lindberg

The Irish neck is both very soft and as leathery as an equestrian’s undercarriage

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan: It has taken 10 years for the statute of limitations on past failures to  come into force. The party cannot blow this second chance. Photograph:  Aoife Moore/PA

Old political order is in doldrums but disruptive challenge to it is all over place

Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner) to Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart): ‘. . . it appears that terrorism is an effective way to promote political change’.

Star Trek predicted Irish unification in 2024. It’s not inconceivable the series was right

School students in Athens take part in a demonstration to raise awareness about climate change. Photograph: Getty Images

Our MEPs have a dire record on climate change. We must put it at top of EU agenda

 Joe Biden seems to have the quality that more exciting candidates are said to lack: electability. Photograph: Reuters/Brian Snyder

Democrats have to excite the small but decisive group who voted for both Trump and Obama

We have a ruling culture that has already forgotten everything that happened so recently. It has “moved on” into a bland technocratic desert where thinking about all big public projects is outsourced because that way no one has to take responsibility for the public good.  Photograph: Getty Images

Broadband plan designed by same firm, KPMG, that failed to raise alarm about banks

Nothing to sing about?: 10-year-old Mona Abdulmagid (foreground of montage) takes part in the the Ireland Palestine Alliance’s boycott-Eurovision campaign. Last year’s winner was the Israeli singer Netta Barzilai (background)

Israel has used the song contest to present itself as a normal European society

 Secretary of state for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley: When she volunteered that she took the job not knowing nationalists did not vote for unionists, she was revealing an ignorance that is not, alas, outstanding. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Irish history appears to be a mystery to much of Britain’s intellectual elite

Fintan O’Toole: ‘The courtesy of calling people by their own chosen names, individual and collective, is essential both to civil society and to basic human decency.’ Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty

Transgender rights are human rights. They don’t require a hierarchy of victimhood

Mary Lou McDonald: Sinn Féin’s position is to be “heartily sorry” for “those who were hurt by the IRA”, but not to be one bit sorry for the “armed struggle” in which they were hurt. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty

Sinn Féin no longer accepts the legitimacy of crypto-fascist ‘republicanism’, but it won’t disavow it either

Ireland: what do we do now, now that we are happy? Illustration: iStock/Getty

The 2019 Sign of the Times survey shows an Ireland more anxious and divided than it seems

While the crimes uncovered in scandal after scandal were committed under the auspices of the church, the State and society are guilty at a minimum of ‘failure of duty, delinquency’. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Shame at the abuse of children in Irish institutions has achieved nothing

Heinrich Böll in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, in 1971. Photograph: Gordon Standing

Fascism has no safe dose – it is in ordinary conversations that toxic ideas are checked

Mary Cregan: her descriptive prose is potent and vivid yet so restrained

Mary Cregan’s personal history is gripping, but she also interrogates her depression

A highly educated young generation has little hope of being as well off as its parents. Photograph: Alan Betson

Political middle-ground depends on middle-class way of life that is ever further out of reach

Kirstjen Nielsen with Donald Trump, who dismissed her as  secretary for homeland security despite the fact that she  fully implemented his successful testing of the most basic human boundaries. Photograph: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Last year’s trial run for fascism was a success. Now the policy is being refined

The old country: performers during a scene showing a pre-industrial rural England as part of  the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

The distance between the gloriously bonkers opening ceremony of the London Olympics and the sourness of Brexit is not as great as (...)

The Third Policeman: the secret key to another long-running drama in which everyone is lost and everything begins to look a lot like hell: Brexit.

O’Brien’s The Third Policeman – with its unending, hellish plot – is the Brexit Code

European chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier with  Simon Coveney:  The aura of competence that surrounds the Irish State when it is facing outwards evaporates when it is turned towards its own internal problems. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Why do politicians seem so competent on international stage, and so incompetent at home?

Donald Trump: quickly claimed Mueller’s findings meant complete and total exoneration for him. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Special counsel’s findings look great for the US president, until you consider the long-term

Game of Thones: Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in the Battle of the Bastards

Spectacular TV fantasy dramatises climate change, globalisation and political disorder

A lorry driving near Dundalk: The question for all of us on this island is,  what else can make those who see themselves as British feel at home in Ireland? Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

When even The Spectator is playing Give Ireland Back to the Irish, how can people in Northern Ireland hold on to a British identit(...)

A group of  officials attending a meeting of the Congress of Vienna, in  Austria. Photograph:  De Agostini/Getty Images

The British are creating in reality the thing they feared in their paranoid fantasies

 Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage addresses marchers from a pro-Brexit bus: Brexit is a dead horse, a form of nationalist energy that started to decompose on June 24th, 2016, as soon as it entered political reality.  Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty

Westminster chaos affords preview of Britain standing alone with its demons

Brexit battle: like English players at Wimbledon, Theresa May has been hyped up far beyond her merits and promoted to Centre Court. Photograph: Thomas Niedermueller/Getty

The British PM’s dullness hides a monomaniacal obsession with staying in power

A Remain supporter sports European-flag socks: Ireland has saved Britain from the disaster of a hard Brexit and perhaps even from Brexit itself. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

Irish identities converge accidentally to render Britain a big service

Fr Charles Coughlin created the template for a media-savvy demagogue to acquire a huge political following in the US

A float depicting Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg during the annual Rose Monday parade in Duesseldorf, Germany, on Monday. Photograph: Kirsten Neumann/EPA

We have failed to protect our children – now we are looking to them to protect us

Michael Cohen listens as he finishes a day of testimony to the House Oversight  Committee  in Washington on Wednesday. If Cohen is a rat, Trump is the mafia boss who gets ratted on in the end. Photograph:  J Scott Applewhite/AP)

Michael Cohen may be, in Trump's eyes, a rat. But what does that make Trump?

How much risk are the no-dealers willing to bear? On a personal level, none at all. Jacob Rees-Mogg has moved hedge funds to Dublin and advises his clients on how to “Brexit-proof” their investments. Nigel Farage admitted  that his two children and his wife have German passports and will remain entitled to  EU citizenship. Photograph: Getty Images

In this high-stakes game, the Republic has a three-in-four chance of winning

 Donald Trump: in a sense his wall is just another drug. For his fans, it is a fix of xenophobia that dulls the pain of the real epidemic that is blighting their lives and their own communities. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters

The biggest drug problem in the US is not heroin or crystal meth, but painkillers

When we outsiders see Boris Johnson stuck on a zip wire with a Union Jack in each hand or Jacob Rees-Mogg bringing his nanny along to canvass voters on his behalf, we are initially indulgent: how delightfully, comically, English. Photograph: EPA

Brexit has given us a new species and a strange, new phenomenon – the harmful eccentric

Jeff Bezos: the Amazon boss   disclosed attempts to blackmail him by the publishers of the lurid tabloid, the National Inquirer. Photograph:  Joshua Roberts/Reuters  Jeff Bezos: the Amazon boss   disclosed attempts to blackmail him by the publishers of the lurid tabloid, the National Inquirer. Photograph:  Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Ironically the president gave Jeff Bezos the courage to defy the National Inquirer

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker shakes hands with UK prime minister Theresa May. Photograph: Francisco Seco/AP

Sense of danger hides fact the UK is repatriating boring stuff the EU excels at

Liam Neeson:   the actor said in a subsequent TV interview for ABC that “you sometimes just scratch the surface and you discover this racism and bigotry and it’s there”. He should have known that for black people the surface is their own flayed skins. Photograph: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

The Irish actor seemed not to understand the story he told pressed on an open wound

A surveillance camera shows the abduction of Jamie Bulger (2), in February 1993. Vincent Lambe’s short film Detainment, based on the abduction and its aftermath, has been nominated for an Academy Award. Photograph: BWP Media via Getty Images

Calls for Vincent Lambe’s ‘Detainment’ to be withdrawn are deeply misguided

Italian educator Maria Montessori with young children at her school in Smithfield, London, circa 1951. Photograph:  Popperfoto/Getty Images

Brutality lingered as a set of attitudes long after it was banished as official practice

The Bombardier plant in Belfast is “a living legacy of a British and Protestant industrial world that shaped unionism itself”. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

A thousand Airbus jobs in east Belfast will be unviable if there is a hard Brexit

Dubliner Fergus Linehan, director of the Edinburgh International Festival. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Ireland can capitalise on the Brexit brain drain from across the Irish Sea

Pro-Brexit protesters  outside the Houses of Parliament:  hard Brexiteers, under the cover of nationalism, want to unleash an even more virulent form of globalisation that will destroy what is left of working-class communities. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

Brexit will not be reversed on the basis of economic arguments alone. The Left must address the crisis of identity at its heart

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney shakes hands with German foreign minister Heiko Maas at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Delusion that EU’s fear of no-deal will allow renegotiation is likely to be obliterated by parliament

The problems children face in Ireland today, and the policies that could solve them

What the ardent Leavers  say about a no-deal Brexit is not that they are really convinced it is a good thing, but that the English will endure the suffering and get through it because that is what they have always done. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Why does today’s vote in the House of Commons feel so anticlimactic? Because it is based on a fantasy of how history works

Photographs from a wanted poster issued for IRA man Dan Breen

The Soloheadbeg ambush of 1919 was as much a strike at Sinn Féin as at Britain

Brexiteers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage, who said if Brexit was obstructed he would “don khaki, pick up a rifle and head for the front lines”. Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Only those who fail to take threat of political violence seriously can indulge it

1945: British and American soldiers dancing with German girls in a Berlin street cafe only days after the fraternisation ban was lifted at the end of the second World War II. Photograph: Getty Images

In the US and Britain, 2019 may see disenchantment with the reactionary nature of 2016

  The remains of cars destroyed by the Carr Fire in July in Redding, California. No one was even vaguely surprised that Trump’s response to the wildfires was to deny that they had anything to do with climate change. Photograph:   Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Physical and political wildfires raged across the world – and we began to get used to them

Fintan O’Toole with his sons, Fionn (left) and Sam, at a book launch in 1999. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

There are times when the wonder of death and birth seems overwhelming

British prime minister Theresa May gestures while answering questions following a speech at Complesso Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy, on Friday, September 22nd, 2017. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The Irish did not invent the backstop to thwart Brexit. The crisis is a British one

There are no angels or shepherds coming to adore our homeless children; no star from the east to hang over them. Above, a window in  the lady chapel of the Catholic University Church, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

While we worship an image of a homeless child, thousands of children in Ireland will wake up at Christmas in places that are not h(...)

British prime minister Theresa May returns inside 10 Downing Street, following her statement after she survived an attempt by Tory MPs this week to oust her with a vote of no confidence.  Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Unless it escapes from this mess now, Britain will be locked into a decade of political crises

Comic capers: “The terms and conditions of Brexit now look like they were written by the Marx Brothers.” File photograph: Getty Images

Fintan O’Toole: Brexit looks like it was written by Marx Brothers

Protest meeting in 1918 in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, against conscription in Ireland. In April that year,  Lloyd George’s government had given itself the power to extend conscription to Ireland. Photograph: Photo12/UIG/Getty Images

In an act of peaceful secession, Irish people chose to be citizens, not subjects

Do we have to see children being tear-gassed on the US-Mexico border before we believe that a slide into authoritarianism is under way?  Do we have to crucify Christ in every generation before we can understand our own capacity for cruelty? Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Fintan O’Toole: Why must we experience the worst before we can believe in it?

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s Brexit. Illustration: Angelo McGrath (with apologies to Jamie Reid)

The UK’s decision to leave the EU is like living through the anarchy of punk all over again

The expedition has now arrived simultaneously at Cape Disappointment, Delusion Point and Exasperation Bay. Photograph: iStock

HMS Brexit moored between Cape Disappointment, Delusion Point and Exasperation Bay

Up Yours Delors: the pantomime image is a distinctive genre of English fiction. One of the tragedies of Brexit is that it will become redundant

Brexit is the outcome of decades of spoofery by Britain’s media

File photograph: Boris Johnson speaking at a rally for the Vote Leave organisation during the Brexit referendum campaign on March 11th, 2016 Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

To get to Brexit, a society has to dream itself into an unexperienced condition

Theresa May gives a statement at Downing Street. It is easier to keep pretending that, if only May had stuck it to the Europeans in the negotiations, the perfect have-cake/eat-cake Brexit would have been delivered. Photograph:  Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty

A truly patriotic politician would now ask the British people again if this is what they really want

Northern Secretary Karen Bradley, who said: “I didn’t understand things like when elections are fought, for example, in Northern Ireland – people who are nationalists don’t vote for unionist parties and vice versa.” Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Future chroniclers will in fact have to distinguish between three kinds of ignorance

(Original Caption) 'Germany: World War I Armistice: Officers celebrate at captured German canteen.' In reality, the industrial nature of the slaughter destroyed all the notions of individual heroism and chivalry.

A century after the Armistice of 1918, we are still living in the world it created

 U.S. President Donald Trump gestures at a campaign rally on the eve of the U.S. mid-term elections at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, U.S., November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

Success in the Senate race consolidates his control of conservative America

Theresa May:  it is crucially important that she  is allowed her Dunkirk moment. Photograph: Getty Images

It is vital that May is allowed to save face even as she performs the great Brexit climbdown

Illustrator: Fuchsia MacAree

Capital ideas: Irish architecture is part of the solution to a major social problem

‘Hysteria can turn moral decency into hatred, and hatred can make monsters of us all.’ File photograph: David Sleator

Avoiding hatred is not about being nice to Travellers but about preserving democracy

  Peter Casey decided to save his floundering campaign by picking at the scab of Ireland’s deepest prejudice. Photograph:   Collins

Casey’s rivals, to their credit, did not follow by picking scab of Ireland’s deepest prejudice

Murdered: the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2010. Photograph: AFP/Getty

The deal with Saudi Arabia has always been: everything’s fine as long as the oil flows

Áras an Uachtaráin: I would not trade any of our recent presidents for all the crowned heads of Europe. Photograph: Frank Miller

As a Republic we can be proud we elect presidents of eloquence and gravity

Let us consider the following scenario. In order to come to power, Jeremy Corbyn agrees a pact with the SNP. But he is still three seats short. Photograph:  Leon Neal/Getty Images

It’s time to think about the unthinkable – a disintegrated UK, a reignition of the Troubles

Any unionist with a stim of wit would understand that Northern Ireland’s future in the union depends on the Remainers. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The little Englanders the DUP has aligned with have no desire to subsidise the North

Crumlin housing project. File photograph: Tony Linck/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Millions of us grew up in local authority houses. We are no worse than anyone else

Former Garda commissioner  Martin Callinan. “We are drawn by Charleton into a world where we cannot trust appearances. We could not trust the person, Martin Callinan, who had the job of keeping us safe.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Only enduring comfort of this moral tale is that it has a hero in Maurice McCabe

The Minister for Finance delivering Budget 2018. Paschal Donohue today, like all of his modern predecessors, is so busy making sure the ship is not sunk by gross inequality that he can barely think about the course of the voyage. Photograph: Alan Betson

Ireland’s finances are worse than other countries in four key ways

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster, earlier this week: the image of the “blood red line” was not in good taste, but it was revealing. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

When it’s all over, what will be left for Northern Ireland to be united with?

 Judge Brett Kavanaugh  testifying   before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington on Thursday, September 27th, 2018. Photograph: Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The nominee for the US Supreme Court is part of a wider reactionary mindset in which being Irish means you can dismiss your own pr(...)

Eyes on Gibraltar: the enclave’s 34,000 residents voted 96 per cent to remain in the EU. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty

The Spain-Gibraltar border shows what a customs-union divide looks like

Ian Buruma: edited the ‘New York Review of Books’  with grace and intelligence, but  was wrong to publish the Ghomeshi piece. Photograph:  Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty

The departure of Ian Buruma as editor of the ‘New York Review of Books’ should worry everyone who values the freedom of the press

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern signing the Belfast Agreement in 1998. Photograph: Dan Chung/Reuters

Britain’s new Brexit strategy is a cynical reversal of the Irish adage. But it won’t work

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  at the launch of the Land Development Agency. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Developer-led planning has never met the basic need for shelter. Yet the Government clings to its blind ideological faith in the m(...)

Boris Johnson:  trying to snatch glorious defeat from the jaws of his accidental victory, to recreate Brexit as a Lost Cause.  Photograph: Steve Back/Getty Images

Johnson is not evil, but he is a deeply unserious manchild who pursues only his own pleasures – while ruining the country he purpo(...)

In every vile regime, there are people who tell themselves that they are working on the inside in order to protect the state from the worst excess of a half-crazed tyrant. Indeed, vile regimes can’t work without these people. Photograph: Getty Images

Fintan O’Toole: Self-exculpating mindsets of the enablers are not a form of resistance

Gabriel Fitzmaurice in Moyvane, County Kerry, one of those places that is about to lose its post office

Ireland needs a joined-up national plan for vibrant villages

George Orwell, in 1944, wrote that “almost nobody seems to feel that an opponent deserves a fair hearing or that the objective truth matters so long as you can score a neat debating point”. Photograph: AP

We should not despair about apparent impossibility of civil discourse – we’ve been here before

Pope Francis arrives to attend the Festival of Families at Croke Park. Photograph: Getty Images

Francis cannot escape reality that he heads an institution struggling to confess its sins

Pope Francis candles are seen for sale at a stall at the Pastoral Congress at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Francis seems a fine person, and the faithful will greet him with joy. But he can’t repair the ruins of a corrupt, abusive institu(...)

Margaret Cash with six of her seven children. Margaret Cash and her family are very real people, but they are also ghosts haunting Irish Catholicism.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Church’s failure to embrace Margaret Cash is at odds with their teaching

Why do we spend enough money to have a first-class health service but end up with waiting lists that will top a million patients this year? Photograph: Pierre Andrieu/AFP/Getty Images

The Republic is a rich, young, stable country. So why is it so dysfunctional?

Poolbeg power station, its towers just visible above heavy coastal fog in Dublin Bay. We thought about climate change when we had a little heatwave – but when the rain and clouds returned, our thoughts vanished with the sun. File photograph: Eric Luke

Our climate cheques are bouncing but we still think we are an exceptional people

The Irish Hockey following their reception at City Hall. The fabulous women who mesmerised us all on both sides of the Border are from Coleraine and Cork, from Belfast and Dublin, from Derry and Larne. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

There are very real ways in which there is no such singular place as Ireland

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern.  “Now that the boom keeps getting boomier and the property market is in full-on freak-out mode, it is time for our political leaders, as the great man famously put it, to ‘start throwing white elephants and red herrings at each other’.” File photograph:  David Sleator/The Irish Times

‘Granny grant’ a symptom of political culture that refuses to build decent public services

What we’ve ended up with after 16 years is a tendering process in which there is just a single bidder which has no experience at all of building this kind of infrastructure. Photograph: Karl Hussey/Fennell Photography

Using the 1950s State electricity model would be a sin against the new orthodoxy

Who do you think you are kidding Monsieur Barnier/We’re preparing to kill each other for a can of Spam.

Contingency plan was to scare Brussels but really only echoes with ‘Don’t panic!’

 William Butler Yeats: After the election of Donald Trump, there was a massive surge in online searches for his magnificently doom-laden “The Second Coming”. Photograph:  Getty

Use of WB Yeats by politicians and media is an index of how bad world has become

British prime minister Theresa May. “While Ireland can’t make Theresa May ask for more time, it can try to make it clear that more time will be given if she asks for it.” Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Extension of Brexit deadline beyond March 2019 is now a vital Irish interest

US president Donald Trump and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin attend a joint press conference after a meeting  in Helsinki, on Monday. Photgraph:  Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The humiliation of Trump is the greatest revenge drama since ‘Hamlet’.

Yes to Europe: Britain knew its decision to join Common Market was a profound moment. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty

When Britain joined the EU it realised the stakes. Now it is mired in petty politicking

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